January 1, 2013: Things I’m Still Learning, Part I

He who breaks a resolution is a weakling;
He who makes one is a fool. F.M. Knowles

It wouldn’t be New Year’s if I didn’t have regrets. William Thomas

2012 was an interesting year, as most of these years are and will likely continue to be. We seemed to have survived yet another catastrophic prediction, though I understand there is a possibility of a solar storm in 2013 that could render some of our technologies inert. Maybe the Mayans were just off a bit in their calculations. We will survive Congress’ shenanigans, but as with most shenanigans, we’ll have to see how much it will cost. I suppose we’ll survive voters and non-voters’ shenanigans as well, though again, we’ll have to see how much that costs as well. Things we’re all trying to survive is just too big a list to chronicle, so I’ll stick with the annoying stuff that I still haven’t much learned—at least enough to change behavioral patterns, as opposed to behavioral particulars.

Some work is still a four-letter word. This year I once again realized that I’ve never been driven by a work ethic even if I have been driven by an effort to understand, to be clear, and to accurately describe the dynamic. But I tend to get discouraged, which means I’ve got some resentment building up. That resentment can be a nasty bit of business. In 2013, I hope I learn that outcomes are not the primary compass heading (yeah, yeah, I’m aware of the sports rule that there is only first place). I’m not bad at this outcome-less approach, but I’m not great at it either.

Speaking of efforts (just go with it), I still get caught up in thinking that effort means doing stuff. Maybe in 2013 I’ll learn that it can take an effort to not do stuff—just ask folks with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I don’t have OCD, but I do like order and even that can be a tough task-master. To get a good start on this learning, I’m going to Monterey for a week and doing a lot of nothing.

Maybe in 2013, I will once again and in a deeper way, come to understand the importance of a “we” description of reality, without losing the “I” description. For me, a “we” is a difficult road as the myriad of human attentions can be astounding, not to mention omnidirectional. “We” seem like we’re tearing the wagon apart. Good grief, we haven’t even learned the basics a wolf pack knows. My problem is falling prey to becoming astounded, which is not so unrealistic if I think about it. Still, being astounded as opposed to being focus is a bit of a tributary. Perhaps I will re-read the previous two paragraphs after I return from Monterey.

Related to the above, in 2013, I hope I re-learned that the point of dealing with others is not to manage the perception of others, but to air them. To give myself some credit, I’m not much of a perception-manager. But again, I sometimes have the patience of a rabid dog, though without the need to bite. As I get older, my impatience seems to get worse. I mean, I’m now in the old-age stage. Apparently I’m going to my death having lived as a human in a world of humans going every which direction. It’s a kind of Cognitive Babylon that seems afoot. So what—is it really necessary for me to resent our lack of cooperation? I don’t think so, even if I have offspring that will survive me and likely face the same thing.

Still related to the “politics” of us: In 2013, I hope I learn even more the truism that the “least” of us deserve the best from us. This lesser-than nonsense is only useful if we want to create the haves vs. the have-nots. We’ve well proven we can do that so let’s move on. My particular job in this growing mess is a bit less growling and a little more empathy. That doesn’t mean I have to go all touchy-feely as some anger can be pretty helpful sometimes, but whatever my demeanor, I hope to not us-and-them-it at all. I’ll have to carefully check my motivation to pull off this bit of learning.

Another irritating bit of learning I need to accomplish is realizing that much of my reality tends to reflect my stuff. I have learned that I can ignore that bit of wisdom by assuming I merely react to reality, but there is some delusion attached to that bit of mental gymnastics. Yes, I’m part of a larger picture of reality and in no way am I interested in becoming Atlas or Sisyphus, but while I don’t think an earthquake or asteroid impact is directly reflective of my reality, my preparation for it is. So when resentment builds up in me because of omnidirectional attentions, it must mean I was unprepared for it—not to mention expecting some other outcome. Ugh.

As I’ll at least do a part two in this bit of year-end musing, and given that for me at least, there are N-parts still necessary in my learning and wisdom, I’ll stop for now with this: It seems to me that a journey of recapitulation and renewal without follow-up behaviors is as dangerous as behaviors without a journey of recapitulation and renewal (see the Japanese proverb in part two of my November, 2012 musing). A mistake of mine is becoming satisfied with the process of recapitulation and renewal when I need to implement actual behavioral changes. Yes, I remember I just wrote about outcomes, but I’m not talking outcomes, I’m talking about shortchanging process. Best if I don’t become smug when I can successfully recapitulate and renew as there is a lot more to traversing these dimensions than simply recapitulation and renewal.

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